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How to Win in Direct Mail Even When You Lose

Not every direct mail marketing campaign is a winner.  Sometimes the response rates aren’t even close to your target.  Don’t despair.  You can turn even a losing campaign into a win.

Direct mail marketing is all about consistency, repetition and refinement.  A losing campaign is a disappointing but valuable chance to refine your approach, narrow your target, and aim again.  It’s time to roll up your sleeves and begin the analysis.

Look at More than Response Rates

Typical response rates for a successful direct mail campaign are between 1% and 3% depending on the industry.  If your response rates were lower, you need to look beyond the numbers to understand the reasoning behind customer response or lack of it.

See who bought.  Consider the demographics of the customers who responded to your call to action.  Was your mailing more interesting to men or women?  What about age group or zip code?  Perhaps your buyers were primarily married homeowners in suburban zip codes.  Possibly single women between the ages of 25 and 30 bought from you but only via the internet.

See who didn’t buy.  Perhaps you offered a coupon to contacts in a wide radius.  If no one further than 10 miles from your store redeemed the coupon, you’ve learned something important.  Did you offer response via social media or personalized URL to individuals with limited interest in the internet?

Refine and Redefine  

Now that you understand who bought, it’s time to redefine your demographic and refine your approach to cater to that demographic.  How do you do that?

  • Subdivide Your List:  Rather than providing a general offer to a large number of contacts, subdivide your list into more specific demographic groups.  Create an offer that appeals to the unique interests and needs of each group.

 

  • Target Geographic Locations:  Did your responses come from similar zip codes?  Divide your list by location and tie your offer to location specific details such as urban vs. rural or community events.

 

  • Buying Patterns:  If your list contains current and former customers, consider isolating them based on buying patterns.  Frequent customers may respond to a loyalty punch card while one time customers may return with a coupon.

Narrowing your focus allows you to design a compelling and powerful mailing.  You can cater to the specific needs and preferences of a more specific portion of the market.  This fine-tuned approach will in most cases yield a higher response rate than a general campaign.

 

Start Small and Test

A narrow focus creates a smaller mailing list.  Perfect!  Now you can test your assumptions within a defined set of circumstances and gauge the response.  Direct mail is a continuous learning process.  Every mailing generates results you can analyze in order to understand your customers better.

Rather than taking a single mailing approach to your direct mail marketing strategy, consider your overall strategy.  Low response from a single mailing provides information and insight to strengthen your strategy and approach in the long run.

Make it your goal to analyze each campaign to learn all you can about your customers and your approach.   Applying every lesson you learn to future campaigns increases your effectiveness, your response rate, and your revenue.

 




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